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Why do tents get wet inside?

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why do tents get wet inside

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If you’ve ever been camping in a tent then you will be familiar with the dampness that can occur inside and the discomfort and unpleasantness that this can cause.

Tents get wet inside as a result of condensation. It can be particularly bad when temperatures outside the tent drop, often overnight. The warm air inside the tent, from people, dogs and cooking and lighting hits the cool fabric of the tent and condenses, creating the dampness that is so common.

Is there a way to stop condensation in a tent?

You’ll never fully remove condensation from your tent, particularly if the temperature outside is low.

There are, however a few simple things that you can do to reduce and minimise the levels of dampness that is caused by condensation.

Increase the levels of ventilation. If you roll the door or a window open you will be able to create a reasonable level of ventilation which will help humid air to escape from the tent.

Remove wet items. Things such as wet coats, clothes and boots will increase the humidity levels in the tent as they dry, and this will lead to condensation and wetness in the tent.

By keeping them outside the tent, perhaps in an outdoor shelter, you remove the source of dampness.

Avoid cooking in the tent. A useful addition to tent camping is a gazebo that you can set up as an outdoor kitchen and dining area.

If you must cook in the tent then make sure that you have it well ventilated to let warm, humid air escape.

Try to avoid camping in wet areas. If you set up camp near to rivers, lakes or in areas where the ground is wet, then you are already exposed to extra dampness. 

Avoid setting up camp in low points where cold air will collect. Try instead to set up on the side of a slope rather than at the base.

Cold air runs downhill and a slope is less likely to hold damp air than the base.

Condensation is the main cause of dampness inside a tent

Is my tent leaking or is it condensation?

If it is raining and water is dripping or pouring in then it is possible that you have a leak and you may need to investigate and repair your tent.

However, condensation is very common in tents and often water can collect in significant amounts on the inner tent walls.

Typically this water will be in the form of droplets rather than visible dripping or pouring.

If you find water in your tent then, unless there is some physical damage, it is most likely to be condenstaion.

Modern tents are very waterproof making it difficult for water to get into ( and out of ) the tent.

Why is my tent wet in the morning?

The air that you naturally breath out is warm and humid. 

Generally outdoor temperatures drop overnight so the warm, humid air that you breath out as you sleep, condenses on the tent walls.

When you consider that the average adult breaths out about 1 litre of water while they are asleep it is not surprising that the tent becomes damp inside.

Levels of dampness will increase if more people are using the tent.

Try to allow some overnight ventilation, if possile, which will allow some of the damp air to escape.

Are there any tents that don’t get wet inside?

All tents suffer from some levels of condensation but there are some that are better than others.

Double walled tents can reduce the levels of condensation as they have an inner mesh that allows warm air to pass through to the outer tent walls.

The condensation still forms but it forms on the outer skin, away from you, making things more comfortable.

Canvas tents tend to perform better in the condensation area than some of the more modern materials.

What is the best way to dry the inside of a tent?

Ventilation and the heat from the sun are the two best options for getting the interior of your tent dry.

This is one of the reasons why you should choose your location with care before you setup camp.

If you choose an area that gets the morning sun or is south facing then you will benefit from that early morning, natural warmth, that will soon evaporate and remove any moisture on the inner and outer walls of your tent.

Final Words

Tents get wet inside due to condensation caused by warm. humid air ( from breathing and cooking ) hitting the tent walls and cooling.

The liquid in the air then condenses back into water.

There are basic steps that you can take to reduce the amount of wetness in a tent but the key step is to increase the levels of ventilation.

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